Having made the decision on which school to attend, the next task was getting accepted to said school. Back to the university’s website. After checking the specific web site for the Communication Science and Disorders department, I was armed with a new checklist. There was a web page (with helpful links) clearly outlining what it would take to be eligible to apply for their graduate program:
- Transcripts. Official transcripts are required, showing an in-progress or conferred Bachelor’s degree from a regionally accredited college or university with a satisfactory overall GPA (3.0 or higher). Easy enough to obtain as long as you are in good standing with your alma maters. If you owe them money, this is their chance to collect before they will let you have an official copy of your transcripts. I had to get transcripts from two schools. Each had a website with an online form to complete and a
small fee to pay. I also had to fax the last page of the site to the school with my signature to officially authorize the release of the transcripts. They were sent in a sealed envelope (a common requirement) directly to my future grad school.
- Letters of Recommendation. Schools want to know that OTHER people think you’ll be as good a fit for your future career as you do. I’ll address this obstacle more fully in a separate blog. I worked on getting my letters submitted starting about 60 days before the deadline for application. Of course, you can start sooner. It’s not like the letters will “expire”. Keep in mind that most schools now prefer your recommenders send their letters electronically, directly into your online application. If you have not yet started your online application, they won’t have anywhere to send it.
- Standardized Tests. For me, that was the GRE, or Graduate Record Examination. Not exactly a self-explanatory name. It is the general test that most schools require for admission. There are other specific standardized tests for business, law and math-intensive degrees, but this is like the SAT of grad school in general. It’s the most awful test I’ve ever taken. Every school and department has different minimum requirements to be considered for admission, so make sure to check you
r school’s website carefully. All in all, if it is a competitive program, you can be sure the minimum won’t be enough when it comes to comparing all the applicants and making the final decisions. You’ll need to do your very best. I began studying for the GRE about 10 months before I took the exam. There will definitely be at least one more blog on this topic.
- Goal Statement. This is probably as important as your GRE scores. The school wants to know why you want to be an underwater basket weaver before it will admit you to their program. Their goal is to graduate successful students because successful students make them look good and will hopefully donate money back to the school in the future. If they only have a limited number of spaces available, they want the best people in those spots. They want assurance that not only can you take a (stupid, horrible) test, but you have the drive to complete the program and continue on to a bright future. It’s the one shining thing (other than an interview) that will show who you are as a PERSON above and beyond your test scores and GPA. Again, this deserves a blog all its own. I promise you’ll see one.
I’ve noticed many master’s programs have similar requirements, but some require resumes, work histories, multiple essay submissions, etc. Whatever you do, be sure to read through the school’s admissions page and the department’s admission page and any available student handbooks. There are a lot of hoops to jump through just to get into school and you don’t want to miss a trick!